Being a tea drinker from way back, the common experience in going out to coffee shops with my wife is that when they bring her coffee and my tea they almost always, if they don’t first ask, put the tea in front of her and the coffee in front of me. There is a latent categorisation by gender that runs deep in our cultural assumptions. But the evidence that tea drinkers are different from those coffee drinking types is now available, and not through some academic paper but from the evidence of the market where no more conclusive proof could possibly be found. This is the story.
Last week Starbucks opened a Teavana tea bar in New York City, the first step towards creating what it hopes will be a counterpoint to its enormously successful coffee locations. Before being bought by Starbucks last year, Teavana had primarily been known for retail shops that sold tea and supplies — but didn’t serve the drink. With the tea bar concept, Starbucks had to rethink some of the most basic elements of its successful formula for a different kind of customer — including the paper cup itself.
The paper cup. Oh the brutes who drink coffee, what do they care? They would lap it up from a saucer if that was all there was. Tea drinkers are, of course, different:
The goal was to make a cup that felt more like drinking from china than a flimsy, on-the-go piece of cardboard. Double-walled insulation was built into the cup itself, foregoing the need for the cheap cardboard sleeves Starbucks customers (and coffee drinkers everywhere) need to deal with. The texture of the cup itself is different as well; embossed paper is used to provide what’s described as a ‘feathery’ and ‘foamy’ feel. According to the report, the insulating design requires around 50 percent more material than is used in traditional Starbucks cups and sleeves.
“The new design has found quite a following inside the company.” I can’t say I’m even a bit surprised.
[My thanks to JIK for bringing this to my attention.]